THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY – EXTENDED EDITION
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ****1/2 (out of 5)
Ian McKellen as GANDALF
Martin Freeman as BILBO
Richard Armitage as THORIN
Andy Serkis as GOLLUM
Hugo Weaving as ELROND
Cate Blanchett as GALADRIEL
Christopher Lee as SARUMAN
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Peter Jackson
BY KEVIN CARR
Well, it’s been almost a year since Peter Jackson took movie fans back to Middle-Earth with his first installment of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit.” It broke a billion dollars worldwide and sold well on its first foray into the home video market earlier this year. Now that folks have calmed down from the excitement of the film (and the ire of the 48 frames per second stumble), it’s time to get ready for the sequel.
As Jackson did with his previous Middle-Earth movies, it was not at all unexpected that he would release an extended edition of this film, complete with oodles and oodles of bonus content. That time has come with “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Extended Edition,” which is now available on DVD, Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray.
Much like the extended releases of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, this extended edition includes a chunk of scenes (totally 17 minutes) that were not seen in the theatrical release. These new additions flow smoothly into the film, and for the most part don’t stand out as being necessarily new. I’ve seen “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” three times (twice in theaters and once when it hit Blu-ray in early 2013) before getting this Blu-ray, and there was only one thing that jumped out at me as not being from the theatrical cut.
On one hand, this might sound disappointing considering it sends the message that the theatrical cut of the film was good enough with the new 17 minutes not adding a whole lot to the movie. But since I’m an optimist about these films, I like to think this is a good thing. The extra 17 minutes don’t make the movie drag or ramble. It flows smoothly and organically. So many times, extended and director’s cuts can hit a brick wall when you reach the new content, but this is not the case with Jackson’s film.
The only scene that was noticeably different from the theatrical version of the film was a bit in the Goblin Town where the Great Goblin sings “Down, Down, to Goblin Town!” Of course, as Jackson has done with much of the rest of this film series, he’s added parts to the movie that wasn’t from the actual book, and the “Goblin Town” song is a tip of the hat to the original Rankin Bass animated film from 1977. Yeah, it’s a little out of place in the tone of the scene (even in material that enjoys a good song now and then), but there’s a certain appeal to it that I enjoyed.
The new bonus content goes quite a way to balance out the lack of content in the original home video release of this film. The main film disc includes a commentary with Peter Jackson and his production partner. There’s also a single featurette on there called “New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth.”
However, the real meat of the material comes in the additional disc, which was also the case with the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy extended editions. Two entire discs, each with about four and a half hours of new content, are included. They serve as additional appendices to the “Lord of the Rings” releases. In this case, Jackson has even numbered them in accordance with the previous releases.
Disc 2 contains “The Appendices Part 7: A Long-Expected Journey,” and Disc 3 contains “The Appendices Part 8: Return to Middle-Earth.” What can be said about these appendices in general, aside from the fact that they are rich and diverse bonus material with an inordinate amount of information.
The appendices are not for the casual viewer, but rather for the die-hard fans of the film who plan to spend three times as long as the running time of the movie to pore through the nuances of the production. They are extensive, and they do cover the same modicum of information that was included in the previous Blu-ray release. However, there’s so much more to them.
Ultimately, if you’re going to spring for this movie on Blu-ray (or 3D Blu-ray), this is the edition you’ll want to get, for no other reason than having an additional 12 hours of material which gives you a lot more bang for your buck.